Last week, the Bill Cosby we all thought we knew was put in prison by the Bill Cosby none us of knew existed.

It has been a jarring thing to learn America’s Dad was actually a predator who got off on drugging women to render them helpless.

All the achievements, all the influence, all the history and philanthropy, burned to the ground.

As Cosby was carted away, his publicist Andrew Wyatt declared: "They persecuted Jesus. Look what happened. Not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries. So Mr. Cosby is doing fine. He’s holding up well, and everybody who wants to say anything negative — you’re a joke as well."

Sorry, you don’t get to play the Jesus card. Jesus never harmed a living being. As someone noted, Jesus didn’t "roofie" the wine he created from water.

On one point, Wyatt is correct: Countless black men falsely have been accused of rape — and worse — for centuries. In Montgomery, Ala., there’s a new national monument bearing the names of some of the nearly 5,000 black Americans who were lynched between the 1800s and 1968.

Wrong place, wrong time

We all know there have been too many instances to count in which black men have been accused falsely. When Susan Smith decided to drown her two young sons in 1995, she tried to pin their murders on a mythical black man. For all of her ignorance, even Smith understood that being a black man in America means people are more than willing to believe he did it.

But you know who actually was innocent like Jesus? Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who was guilty of nothing more than being a black person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So too were James Byrd Jr., Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray.

So was Medgar Evers.

Trayvon Martin’s only crime was wearing a hoodie and being a smart-aleck. How does that warrant a bullet?

Guess who else was innocent? Botham Jean, who couldn’t even be black in his own home, where he was killed Sept. 6 by a Dallas police officer who says she mistook his apartment for hers.

Wolf pack

In 1989, America bought into media descriptions of the Central Park Five as a "wolf pack" that raped and nearly killed a white woman jogger. Among those howling for their execution was the current president of the United States, who took out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for their deaths. He refuses to admit his mistake.

Wyatt and Cosby don’t get to play the race card, however, not after Cosby admitted to drugging women for sex, including the black woman on whom his criminal trial was centered.

Not when a black man is the one who outed his heinous behavior.

Wyatt, who likely has been suspected and feared merely because he’s black, needs to save his sympathy for Cosby’s daughters, black women whose lives have been ruined. He should reserve it for all the law-abiding black men and boys who can’t even drive, walk down a public street or enter an elevator without someone feeling threatened.

No doubt, there are people who are thrilled by Cosby’s demise for reasons other than his crime. But a better bet is that most Americans of all stripes were shocked, stunned and horrified that someone they long admired, who embodied family values and who achieved the American dream, has turned out to be nothing more than a woman’s nightmare. 

Reach Charita M. Goshay at 330-580-8313 or charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.